Shortages of Semiconductors, Plastics Hinder Manufacturers

Shortages of semiconductors and petrochemical products continue to impact manufacturers across the U.S. The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports that the recent mass blackouts in Texas “led to chemical plant shutdowns that are disrupting global supply chains, causing a shortage of the raw materials needed for everything from medical face shields to smartphones.” It could be months more before all plants are fully back online, meaning prices for resins, plastics and related products will likely remain elevated.

Meanwhile, nearly one in 10 semiconductors are being made outside the U.S., creating a clear long-term vulnerability. The U.S. share of global semiconductor fabrication is 12%, down from 37% in 1990, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. (President Biden’s recent executive order addressing U.S. supply chains specifically mentions semiconductor manufacturing.) As a result of the ongoing semiconductor shortage, the global auto industry will produce up to 5 million fewer vehicles this year than originally planned, according to reports. 3/16/2021

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